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Harty: Gray’s tenure at Iowa lasted far, far too long

[ 0 ] November 10, 2012 |

University of Iowa officials have some explaining to do in the wake of the Peter Gray internal investigation.

It’s alleged that Gray, who resigned on Monday from his position as a senior academic advisor for the University of Iowa Athletic Department, provided football tickets and money for sexual favors and inappropriately touched student-athletes.

It’s also alleged that Gray exhibited inappropriate behavior during the first of his two employment stints at Iowa. He was employed by the Iowa Athletics Department from 1993 to 1995 and again from 2002 until Monday.

It’s actually more than just allegations because Gray has confirmed some of his inappropriate behavior, including that he offered to perform oral sex on a student.

That Gray was allowed to return to UI is perhaps the most disturbing thing about this disturbing case.

Why would UI officials bring back somebody whose behavior in the workplace already had been observed by co-workers as inappropriate?

Why risk it when you didn’t have to?

There were enough qualified senior academic advisors that it made absolutely no sense to re-hire somebody with Gray’s creepy baggage.

But more importantly, why put the student-athletes at risk?

And why was Gray allowed to resign instead of being fired when the documents obtained by the Press-Citizen show that he behaved inappropriately in a sexual manner, mostly at the expense of student-athletes? People have been fired for acts far less disturbing than what Gray is alleged to have committed.

And why isn’t Gray being investigated by the police? If it’s true that he offered football tickets and money for sexual favors wouldn’t that be a form of prostitution?

This case hardly compares to the child rape scandal at Penn State, but it shows how vulnerable and isolated a university setting can be.

UI officials are prohibited from commenting publicly about this case, other than confirming that Gray has resigned.

But let’s hope UI officials have learned from the Penn State scandal that what they say privately to people with power and influence matters the most.

Nobody is suggesting that a cover-up occurred, at least not yet, but it appears Gray was allowed to abuse his position for an extended period. What was revealed in the investigative report is what others lived with on a daily basis.

So it’s unlikely that Gray’s demise caught his co-workers by surprise.

UI officials can be excused for hiring Gray the first time because it appears they had nothing to suggest that he would behave inappropriately.

Hiring him the second time, though, is inexcusable and embarrassing.

It’s also a lightning rod for attention.

This is the kind of story the national media likely will pounce on in the wake of the Penn State scandal. It doesn’t necessarily point to a lack of institutional control, but it does show a lack of judgment, accountability and trust.

Student-athletes have enough to worry about just dealing with normal and decent things in life. They shouldn’t have to deal with somebody in a position of trust being untrustworthy, unethical and disgusting.

The action taken by UI officials was too little and too late.

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Category: Hawkeye news

About Pat Harty: Columnist Pat Harty has been covering the Iowa Hawkeyes for the Press-Citizen since 1991. Originally from Des Moines, he currently writes columns and covers Hawkeye men's basketball for Hawk Central. View author profile.

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